Management of continuous venous gas emboli during extracorporeal life support utilizing the Kolobow gas trap

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Extracorporeal life support (ECLS) with a roller pump system uses a closed cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) circuit not equipped with a venous reservoir. Hence, gas emboli cannot escape the ECLS circuit, predisposing to clot formation, membrane failure and potential gas embolism. Rarely, some patients may develop a continuous release of gas into the venous circulation from multiple sources. Two pediatric ECLS cases are presented with continuous venous gas embolism. A ‘gas trap’ was devised by creating a column of fluid erected vertically on the venous line. This allowed gas to rise within the column, separating it from the ECLS circuit, thus, preventing gas from lodging in the membrane.

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